The South Sydney Rabbitohs and ANZ Stadium have combined forces to have the eastern grandstand at "Australia's Home Ground" renamed The John Sutton Grandstand for Saturday's Round 20 NRL clash between the Rabbitohs and the Parramatta Eels, one of many tributes happening at ANZ Stadium for the Rabbitohs' longest-serving player.
This is the first time in ANZ Stadium's history, dating back to 1999 when it was originally built for the 2000 Olympic Games, that one of its grandstands has been dedicated to a single athlete. The grandstand will be known as The John Sutton Grandstand for the one game against the Eels.
Sutton played his 300th NRL game for the Rabbitohs last weekend against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium, however, the match was an away game for South Sydney. The Rabbitohs are using this Saturday's game against the Eels to pay tribute to Sutton alongside the Club's Members and fans at the Rabbitohs home game scheduled to kick off at 5.30pm.
7,500 John Sutton facemasks will be handed out to Members and supporters as they come through the gates on Saturday afternoon as well as 20 giant John Sutton faces being spread throughout the crowd, Rabbitohs supporter group The Burrow will unveil a huge banner celebrating the 2014 premiership-winning captain, and a specially-designed run-through banner will greet the team as John leads the team onto the field alongside his children Pippi and Ace.
"We proposed the naming of the grandstand to the management at ANZ Stadium in the lead up to John's milestone and they had no hesitation in renaming the eastern grandstand in his honour for this game," Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly said.
"As we saw last week in the build up to game 300, he is a much-loved and much-respected member of our team and of our Club, and there is no more fitting way for him to be honoured at ANZ Stadium than by having the eastern grandstand bear his name for the first Rabbitohs home game after him achieving his 300-game milestone.
"It's an amazing gesture and we thank ANZ Stadium and the management at VenuesLive for making this happen."
ANZ Stadium CEO, Daryl Kerry, said: "John Sutton has been a standout for the South Sydney Rabbitohs over the 13 seasons the club has played at the Stadium and naming a grandstand in his honour this Saturday is a fitting tribute for a truly outstanding clubman.
"Who will ever forget Sutto raising the Telstra Premiership Trophy aloft after the Rabbitohs he had captained won the Grand Final, taking the club to their 21st premiership here in 2014?
"The Rabbitohs' home game against the Parramatta Eels on Saturday will be a special event and we encourage Members and fans to arrive early and make the most of the festivities."
The Rabbitohs will not only be celebrating Sutton's 300 games against the Eels. The Club will also be celebrating Dane Gagai's 150th NRL match which was played against the Tigers last Saturday, as well as Adam Reynolds' 150th NRL game and Alex Johnston's 100th NRL game, milestones which will be achieved at Saturday's match against Parramatta.
Highlights packages will be played for all four players during the pre-match build up, and they will run out for the first half alongside their children through a guard of honour made up of family and friends, Rabbitohs 'Club 1908' Members, Souths Cares representatives, as well junior players representing all of the junior clubs in the Souths Juniors competition from the South Sydney district. Sutton, Reynolds and Johnston all rose to prominence via the Souths Juniors competition and South Sydney junior representative teams.
John Sutton 300 merchandise will be on sale at this game, with the first shipment of t-shirts selling out prior to last week's clash with the Tigers. Members and fans can also have their photos taken with the oversized, illuminated #Sutto300 hashtag, with the Rabbitohs encouraging the use of the #Sutto300 and #GoRabbitohs hashtags on social media posts regarding this game.
ANZ Stadium will also have a special '300 cents' food offer with Chiko Rolls for just $3 at this game, accompanying existing food and beverage offers such as $3.50 soft drinks throughout July and $9.95 kids meal deals.
A special ticket offer is available courtesy of the Rabbitohs and ANZ Stadium for tickets in the John Sutton Grandstand for this game, with gold reserved seats in bays 105, 106 and 109 just $30 between midday today, Wednesday 25 July and 6pm tomorrow, Thursday 26 July. Tickets are available from www.ticketek.com.au/rabbitohs and use the password SUTTO.
All Rabbitohs Members and supporters can take advantage of the 'Fans First' initiatives at ANZ Stadium on Saturday including pre-purchased general admission adult tickets for just $20 with the option to bring up to four kids under 12 in for free, pre-purchased family passes for just $40, and rail travel to and from Olympic Park included in all Rabbitohs Memberships and tickets.
The Rabbitohs are encouraging all Members and supporters to turn out in force at this game to celebrate the careers to date of four of the Club's players, including one of the modern day legends in John Sutton.